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tv   [untitled]    July 25, 2011 8:30pm-9:00pm PDT

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this car on the left, number one, was called la bohemme rented in the sutro section by musicians who when they finished their work downtown in the clubs and theaters would go out to carville to this clubhouse in the night and drink and go skinny dipping in the surf and raise all sorts of ruckus. this little hill in front of them they called mount diablo. they each had their own little locker that was locked up where they kept their liquor so they didn't have to share with each other. and less bohemian wildness. this was a women's card-playing club. they called their car water wild. carville wasn't only out there in the outer sunset. other little communities came up here and there all across the united states, actually. but after the earthquake and fire, 1906 earthquake and fire, there was a little sister community, you might call, called carzonia. and this was a dr. charles
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cross set up 10 old cable cars on california street. between california and cornwall street, fifth avenue and fourth avenue in the richmond district. he assured the neighbors who were very agast at the idea of these old cable cars being set up that they would be very tasteful and artistic. and essentially, yeah, it was like one room with a little bathroom attached made up of old cable cars. dr. cross thought he was hitting on something. there were hundreds of thousands of people who were homeless, looking for new places to live in the aftermath of the earthquake and fire. so he thought why not use these old cable cars. it only lasted about 10, 12 years. guess it wasn't a big hit. he built a more conventional apartment building after that to replace it. it really was the 1906 earthquake and fire that sort of spelled the end of carville. you have these hundreds of thousands of people looking for new homes, suddenly displaced. now they might listen to these men and say, look, you were
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renting before. you don't want to live there. i've got this lot out here, sand dune. but it's $100. you can build a house here for cheap. suddenly, more conventional houses start being built around carville. and some of the stores that kind of started throughout in carville are used by the neighbors. and you start seeing that these conventional homes start pushing out the cars. so we have these cars in the great highway. but behind we have these more straight forward, real houses. here it is again. they're sort of closing in on it. and writers bemoaned that the old planks that were used between houses and cars were now being replaced by real sidewalks, electricity actually comes out pretty quick. the septic tanks, windmills get replaced by real plumbing. the neighbors, they don't want carville anymore. they don't want these bohemian musicians skinning dipping and getting drunk at night. these sort of petting parties that are happening, that the young men are hosting in cars. they want real schools, real firehouses.
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they want to be known as a real community. and so an improvment group called the oceanside improvement group, decided that they would get rid of carville. they hosted an event on july 4, 1913. they called it "burning the car out of carville" which was pretty straight forward. they asked sutro's heirs if they could take the old cars that he had been renting in that original carville plot and make a big bonfire out of them. she said sure. so they took all the cars, put them in a big pile. it was july 4, so they bought some fire works and tossed them in with the fire. but they were trying to announce they were a new neighborhood. they didn't want to be called carville anymore. they wanted to be called oceanside, which sounded a lot more romantic. and so here we looked at that picture. there's a couple of car houses still around in the early 1910. but just 15 years later it really starts filling in.
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the stucco homes we think about in the sunset district. the merchant builders start building. the row houses start taking over in the 1920's and 1930's. and soon people start forgetting that carville was even there. the cars that do remain are kind of derelict. they've been in the elements for 20 years. they're really warn down. mostly they're rented to people who were too poor to rent to other places. so instead of these judges and lawyers and doctors renting cars you had people really on the fringes of society using them, which doesn't help the whole reputation of carville or these cars with the neighbors. they're getting beat up. this is by 1925. a lot of cars, they get pushed back in the backyards of house of lots. so somebody might build a conventional house and just push their old car house in the backyard. this was on 48th avenue in the backyard. it's an old cable car house. guy who lived there in the
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early 1960's, he had a boyfriend named cliff. they paint it yellow. when he got a new boyfriend named dennis, they painted it red to get rid of cliff. but it was a beautiful little car. he still remembers it. it disappeared, we think, sometimes in the 1970's. but this is what keeps my hopes up. this actually isn't in carville. this is in the richmond district on ninth avenue. people say, are there any car houses left? are they all gone? have they disappeared? this is an example of how one can surprise you. this is on ninth avenue in the parking lot behind the old coliseum theater. before that park being lot was there the city was looking for houses, spaces, near merchant corridors to create these little parking lots. they bought this house from a mrs. suggs because they wanted to tear it down and put the parking lot in. when they started tearing the house gown, they realized that this kind of boring house was made up of three old cable car trailers.
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even though the granddaughter who played in the house didn't know that it was made of cable cars, it was hidden behind the stucco. so these little things can surprise you. look at this house. this is in the rear of a lot on great highway. you can't really see it from the street. but if you looked at the front of it you wouldn't think there was anything spemble about it. it's essentially a shingled box. but if you got around to the back of it, you'll see it's actually made of two cable cars and a horse car on the second floor. this is how it's sort of put together. we're look at the backyard here. two cable cars are put together and they basically removed a wall from each to make one large room, a living room. then the horse car is still complete as a bedroom off to the side. this is photographs -- perhaps the last greatest carville house left. it's really a neat place. so with the cable cars, you know you have that little pop-up roof in the middle. what they did so you wouldn't have to duck is they removed that wall and they pushed up the side roof to sort of make this dome feeling inside.
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and the seats are original. they're still in there. the little ventilator windows. the woodwork is all in place. it's just really a neat thing. i'd love to live there. i can't afford it. and if you get up into the attic, you can see the crowns of the cable cars still show. it's just an amazing place. so that's my hope, you know, that this book i wrote, this story gets out, we're on sfgov tv. somebody will say, i have a cable car house, nobody asked me. come take a look at it. because right now we're down to one or two maybe that are still around when we're talking about there used to be hundreds. >> essentially into a generation of tearing them down. no more construction.
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complete replacement. >> yeah. in the 1910, about 1913, 1914, they really started pushing to get rid of them. when that open block that sutro rented, right on the edge of the sunset, when that cleared out, it eliminated the visibility of carville. we talk about a whole block of car houses that were still there. when that gets replaced by apartment buildings, suddenly you have a car house here, one there. just where people haven't taken the time to tear it out or build a conventional home. in the 1920's or 1930's, things were booming house building wise out there. so if you have a little empty lot that has an old car house on it you'd be stupid not to build a stucco house there and make a quick buck. by the 1920's, they're mostly gone. there's just a couple here and there. >> so, woody, sometimes the railroad seems to be finding old cars and rebuilding them. have -- are any of these actually rebuilt and used again? >> some of them they have saved
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because they've popped up now and then. like the ones on ninth avenue. those three cable car trailers. they were saved by ed zelinski who took them and donated them to the maritime museum. think one still sits in a warehouse waiting for somebody to do something with it. but other old cars have been rescued and taken to parks where they've been restored. there's one down in san jose in kelly park. it's an old horse carrie stored that runs around on the weekend. -- car restored that runs around on the weekend. on the one hand, you're in this foggy neighborhood, there's not much insulation. on the other hand, you've got 30 windows, and the sunshine in the day could just make the place broiling. and at night all of those windows let in the cold. so they advised people to put up curtains. they'd have little oil lamps, coal stoves, little oil/coal
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stoves. but it was a challenge. it was sort of part of the romance i think. it's like camping. >> how long did the fad last? >> the height of it, this all really takes off around 1897, 1898. the height of it is really the turn of the century. 1900 we're talking about 200 cars. after the earthquake in 1906, that's when it starts declining a little bit because more conventional houses start taking over and more people live permanently year-around. they're not just using it as a party pad. so it's after the quake it starts declining a little bit. >> is there a d.b.i. record as cable cars were moved to a site that there wou
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before the earthquake, you often don't have a record. then, yeah, you're right. it goes down to some of these pictures i found by basically finding the names of people who lived in carville and then tracking down their desendends and asking, do you have anything? we had people who said, yeah, lots of photos and stories. but it takes a lot of leg work. it's not like you can just walk into a city department and get that info. >> i know you actively solicit the -- solicited people for stories. there's a wonderful newsletter what is it called? >> it's our organizational newsletter. >> it also has in it a mystery photograph that maybe somebody submitted. can you imagine where there is? tell us where it is. but also soliciting these histories of photographs and recollections. >> it's history groups. like we're a history group for the west side of town so we interview old-timers and get donations of photographs and stories. and there's other groups like
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that through the city. it's up to a lot of volunteers and people who care about the neighborhood to track this stuff down. >> so the question about house moving. house moving used to be very common in san francisco. i think you once were looking at that as well. is that right? >> well, we saved some earthquake shots. lawrence helped us get the pormeyit to move them. we pulled out the ledger, you know, with like the official city ledgeser of moving houses. there were tons of them. i don't know, at some point it just kind of petered out and somebody moves a house like once every 15 years now. >> so we in our digital age, issue house moving permits once every couple of years. i pull out this little book. it's got a piece of carbon paper in it. you put the carbon in and you write, you know, house moving permit number, you know, 36. you say from here to there. we charge a fee. a very low fee. it's really right out of the turn of the century before.
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>> yeah, it has that dusty, old-school feeling. >> actually, we maintained that. i tried to maintain this little book. we still do it that way. >> would the post earthquake installation of building codes and building requirements have impacted carville to expand? and ultimately was that part of the demise as our desire and need to have structures that were earthquake safe and fire safe? did that have an impact on it, i guess? >> well it seemed more that they were health issues. they were really not happy with the plumbing in carville. yeah. that shows up a lot more than anybody worried about building integrity or anything. the thing that comes up a little later and we talked a little about, these earthquake refugee cottages. after the 1906 earthquake, the relief corporation that was attending to these refugees built thousands of these small little redwood cottages for the refugees. then when the camps closed
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after a year, people could take the cottages to these empty lots and set them up. it was a far bigger outcry about whether those were appropriate and what the code would be because most of them weren't put on foundations. they were just dragged out to empty lots. they were combined together. sometimes lifted up off the ground even. so you'd find articles about that far more often than finding anybody having a problem with these cars which were actually pretty sturdy. we talk about they're used as public transportation all the time. they're made of some hefty material. so people weren't too worried about them. at least it doesn't come up with the historical records. >> do we have any left? and how are we recognizing and preserving them? >> well, there's that one left that's great that we saw the interior of. and that is not a city landmark. the guy who owns it is very aware of its significance as maybe the last and best example of a carville house. he really wants to take care of it. i don't know if he would go
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forward with any landmark designation just because like a lot of homeowners he doesn't want to be at all boxed in with what he can do. but that's kind of where we are. i think it is a landmark. if anything had to come up, i would definitely nominate it as one. the other examples of carville houses, there's one on 47th avenue where the cars have been basically removed and all you've really got left is perhaps the floors of a couple of cars. it was a great example until, i guess, the late 1950's. and whoever bought house decided to take out most of the woodwork. that might be the only one, the one on great highway. >> i mentioned one of the problems with plumbing with these carville homes. i was wondering at what point in history did outhouses become illegal in san francisco? >> i'm not sure of that. but outhouses were the big part of carville. you see these early shots. there are outhouses like right next door. >> i found out, when i moved to my current house, my house had
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been moved from the reservoir site at holly park to where it was. there was a woman, this was 20 years allege, who had seen the move. she was a kid. she described it coming on a wagon, pulled by a mule. it was basically being breaked by the mule. because it was coming down a hill. and that was just information in my neighborhood from a woman who had lived there for a long time as a kid. and the time is getting further and further away from when these existed. but i think the best thing is humans. and maybe tchutch societies that have senior members. >> yeah. no, if you go to almost -- almost all of our members -- we're a nonprofit organization. so we have a whole membership program. almost all of our members are these kind of people you're talking about. people who grew up in the city, are getting on in years and have these memories. they point us to a lot of other people, people that maybe aren't on the internet who live
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in their neighborhood. we interview them. if you go to, you'll see some examples of the interviews we do of the feedback we get, of the messages that these seniors post. when we have an issue like we're trying to find out about earthquake cottages or carville, we do put out an all points bulletins to seniors who might have some relation to it, some memory of it. one reason we starteded this organization is the western neighborhoods -- started this organization is the western neighborhoods are the newer neighborhoods in san francisco. the creation and development is in the living memory of a lot of people still. so we want to start this organization and capture those memories before those people are gone. >> it's a really, really neat thing i think they're history minutes? >> yeah. one-minute videos where we give a little history of some building or site or event. >> we're in seal rock. this used to be adolph sutro's
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estate. these weren't there then. >> ♪ in the richmond guess i ain't that cool ♪ >> when i was a kid, my father told me those were machine gun nests up there put in during world war ii to fend off japanese attackers. >> these two structures were build in 1943 by the u.s. army. also, these were spotting positions for the big post artillery gun batteries. the stations would work together. say win here and one at fort funston. using telescopes, they named a ship and target. and the two different sightings allowed them to trianglely position the ship at sea. >> so it was a lookout, essentially >> it was a lookout. >> i doubt if we saw a japanese
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ship today -- >> it would probably say toyota on the side of it. >> they are really fun. if shows you what can you do in 60 seconds. >> the pri sidot maps. people -- presidio maps. people keep forgetting that the army was a major presence. before the city was functioning, the army was functioning. and there are maps from the 1800's that show the farmhouses in the valley, the eureka valley, and mission district that were done by the army. so the army is its own resource for the history of the city before there was a building department. they would have everything. you could find out what was the original house in an area. again, this is the 1800's more than the 1900's.
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but the earthquake obliterated a lot of records. >> there's the survey map that the government did. that's a great resource to just kind of show -- you know, we saw that map on the grid pattern. they had that, like i said, on maps in 1968. but there's no streets yet. but the coast survey map will show you where there are streets put in and buildings sometimes. there's lots of great resources out there. >> that was terrific, woody. thank you so much. >> i couldn't have enjoyed it more. [applause] >> we'll see you next >> there has been an
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acknowledgement of the special places around san francisco bay. well, there is something sort of innate in human beings, i think, that tend to recognize a good spot when you see it, a spot that takes your breath away. this is one of them. >> an icon of the new deal. >> we stood here a week ago and we heard all of these dignitaries talk about the symbol that coit tower is for san francisco. it's interesting for those of us in the pioneer park project is trying to make the point that not only the tower, not only this man-built edifice here is a symbol of the city but also the green space on which it sits and the hill to which is rests. to understand them, you have to understand the topography of san francisco. early days of the city, the city grows up in what is the financial district on the edge of chinatown. everything they rely on for existence is the golden gate.
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it's of massive importance to the people what comes in and out of san francisco bay. they can't see it where they are. they get the idea to build a giant wooden structure. the years that it was up here, it gave the name telegraph hill. it survived although the structure is long gone. come to the 1870's and the city has growed up remarkably. it's fueled with money from the nevada silver mines and the gold rush. it's trying to be the paris of the west. now the beach is the suburbs, the we will their people lived on the bottom and the poorest people lived on the top because it was very hard getting to the top of telegraph hill. it was mostly lean-to sharks and bits of pieces of houses up here in the beginning. and a group of 20 businessmen decided that it would be better if the top of the hill remained for the public. so they put their money down and they bought four lots at the top of the hill and they
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gave them to the city. lily hitchcock coit died without leaving a specific use for her bequest. she left a third of her estate for the beautify indication of the city. arthur brown, noted architect in the city, wanted for a while to build a tower. he had become very interested in persian towers. it was the 1930's. it was all about machinery and sort of this amazing architecture, very powerful architecture. he convinced the rec park commission that building a tower in her memory would be the thing to do with her money. >> it was going to be a wonderful observation place because it was one of the highest hills in the city anywhere and that that was the whole reason why it was built that high and had the elevator access immediately from the beginning as part of its features. >> my fear's studio was just
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down the street steps. we were in a very small apartment and that was our backyard. when they were preparing the site for the coit tower, there was always a lot of harping and griping about how awful progress was and why they would choose this beautiful pristine area to do them in was a big question. as soon as the coit tower was getting finished and someone put in the idea that it should be used for art, then, all of a sudden, he was excited about the coit tower. it became almost like a daily destination for him to enjoy the atmosphere no matter what the politics, that wasn't the point. as long as they fit in and did
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their work and did their own creative expression, that was all that was required. they turned in their drawings. the drawings were accepted. if they snuck something in, well, there weren't going to be any stoolies around. they made such careful little diagrams of every possible little thing about it as though that was just so important and that they were just the big frog. and, actually, no one ever felt that way about them and they weren't considered something like that. in later life when people would approach me and say, well, what did you know about it? we were with him almost every day and his children, we grew up together and we didn't think of him as a commie and also the same with the other.
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he was just a family man doing normal things. no one thought anything of what he was doing. some of them were much more highly trained. it shows, in my estimation, in the murals. this was one of the masterpieces. families at home was a lot more close to the life that i can remember that we lived. murals on the upper floors like the children playing on the swings and i think the little deer in the forest where you could come and see them in the woods and the sports that were always available, i think it did express the best part of our lives. things that weren't costing money to do, you would go to a picnic on the beach or you would do something in the
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woods. my favorite of all is in the staircase. it's almost a miracle masterpiece how he could manage to not only fit everyone, of course, a lot of them i recognized from my childhood -- it's how he juxtaposed and managed to kind of climb up that stairway on either side very much like you are walking down a street. it was incredible to do that and to me, that is what depicted the life of the times in san francisco. i even like the ones that show the industrial areas, the once with the workers showing them in the cannery and i can remember going in there and seeing these women with the caps, with the nets shuffling these cans through. my parents had a ranch in santa rosa and we went there all
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summer. i could see these people leaning over and checking. it looked exactly like the beautiful things about the ranch. i think he was pretty much in the never look back philosophy about the coit. i don't think he ever went to visit again after we moved from telegraph hill, which was only five or six years later. i don't think he ever had to see it when the initials are scratched into everything and people had literally destroyed the lower half of everything. >> well, in my view, the tower had been pretty much neglected from the 1930's up until the 1980's. it wasn't until then that really enough people began to be alarmed about the condition of the murals, the tower was leaking. some of the murals suffered wear damage. we really began to organize
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getting funding through the arts commission and various other sources to restore the murals. they don't have that connection or thread or maintain that connection to your history and your past, what do you have? that's one of the major elements of what makes quality of life in san francisco so incredible. when people ask me, and they ask me all the time, how do you get to coit tower, i say you walk. that's the best way to experience the gradual elevation coming up above the hustle and bustle of the city and finding this sort of oasis, if you will, at the top of the hill. when i walk through this park, i look at these brick walls and this lawn, i look at the railings around the murals. i look at the restoration and i th